A First Look at the 2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

For the official video, click here: www.TopCarClips.com/2010Prius

The third-generation Prius, redesigned for the 2010 model year, was recently introduced at the Detroit auto show, and is expected to arrive in dealer showrooms late this Spring. So now the question is: How will the new Prius be different?…. and should you wait to get one?

At first, the new 2010 Prius will offer only incremental improvements over the current model. That’s because it will continue to use the same nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) cells used in most hybrids to date. But sometime in calendar 2010, a version of the car with advanced lithium-ion (LI) batteries will be introduced. Lithium-ion batteries are the same type used in laptops. They are more powerful and efficient, which will extend the car’s electric-only driving range. Their adoption opens the door to adding plug-in capability for even greater electric-only range, and that’s expected by calendar 2011. In contrast, GM’s plug-in vehicle, the Volt, is planned for introduction in late 2010.

Even so, the first 2010 Prius will push the envelope on fuel economy, with a rating of 50 miles per gallon (combined city/highway). That’s up from the 46 mpg rating of the current Prius and the 41 EPA mpg of the first-generation Prius, introduced in 1997. But the new Prius is able to achieve better fuel economy despite having a larger and more powerful engine. As it turns out, the larger engine actually helps improve highway mileage because the new engine can run at lower average rpm on the highway. The new engine will put out 98 horsepower versus 75 before. And the combined gas/electric horsepower is said to be 134, up from 110.

The new Prius will offer three driving modes. EV-Drive Mode lets you drive on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile. Power Mode increases sensitivity to the gas pedal for a sportier feel, and the Eco Mode combines electric and gas power for the best possible mileage.

For the first time, the Prius gets a sliding sunroof. And one of the innovative improvements on the new model is the solar-powered air circulator, which keeps the interior air temperature from rising while the vehicle is parked. Then when the driver returns to the car, less energy is required from the powered air-conditioner to cool down the interior. In fact, the air-conditioning system is also capable of running with the engine off, so the driver can adjust the interior temperature for comfort before getting in the car — an industry first.

Some of the other improvements on the new Prius: sharper handling, reduced road noise, increased interior volume, and improved acceleration. You can now do zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds — an improvement of over one second. And for better stopping power, disc brakes are now used on all four corners, instead of just the front wheels in the current model.

There’s more interior room, both because the car is larger and the cabin design is more efficient. The car is 0.4 inches longer and 2.2 inches wider. The battery cooling unit also takes up less space, providing more room for passengers. Rear legroom is further improved thanks to thinner front seats.

The new Prius will also offer the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system as an option. The system also enables Lane Keep Assist, which helps the driver stay safely within the lane, and the Pre-Collision System, which retracts seatbelts and applies the brakes in certain conditions when a crash is unavoidable.

The next-generation Intelligent Parking Assist features simplified settings to help guide the car into parking spaces. A backup monitor helps you see what’s behind you when reverse is engaged. Safety Connect, Toyota’s first safety and security service, will be available a few months after launch.

It’s expected that the 2010 Prius will have a base price about $1000 more than the current Prius, or around $23,000. But it’s likely that when it first comes out, the 2010 Prius will sell for full MSRP, if not more, while the 2009 is already widely discounted, so the street price difference between the two models will be even greater.

Should you get one? If you are the type of person who loves to have the latest gadgets and wants to have the most fuel efficient mass market vehicle available, by all means, wait a few months. In fact, we have started a 2010 Prius waiting list, so you can be sure to get yours when they arrive at dealerships. But the 2009 model offers proven cost savings and reliability, and you can get a great deal on one today.

Whether you want to be at the head of the line for a 2010 Prius, or get a great deal on a 2009… or if you are looking for a pre-owned Prius with HOV carpool stickers, be sure to give Gene Chamson a call at 510-864-1792. (Email: Gene@CarpoolHybrids.com